Responding to Ethelbert

I first met Ethelbert Miller in 1994, when I knew nothing about poetry and he was touring with the book “In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African-American Poetry.” We’ve stayed in touch for 23+ years, with him coming to SPLAB in Auburn on one occasion and me visiting him in D.C. a couple of times. He is a nexus for African-American writing and a fine poet. BUT, I take exception with his latest piece published on Huffington Post.


You have to forget the last election.

The blown save.

What matters is now – not tomorrow – just now.

In every inning there is the possibility of something going wrong,

the way sunlight blinds or the way a ball skips towards

the wall or through and under a glove. You stand on the mound

of your imagination and imagine nothing except your own breath.

In your hands the roundness of the world.

How do you feel? Is this what you’ve always wanted?

It’s not about the score or getting out of the inning.

It’s about saving whatever needs to be saved. It can be nothing

more than one’s reputation or helping a child crave the memory

of magic and something to believe in. There is nothing more human

than baseball.

– E. Ethelbert Miller

My quickly-written response, probably influenced by MANY Facebook engagements, with HRC supports still blaming Bernie Sanders, or misogyny and the Left’s ongoing inability to sharpen its perception, find the very basic things that can be agreed upon to move forward, and end the reign of SCROTUS:

“You have to forget the last election.

The blown save.” – Ethelbert Miller

We had the wrong starter! She was past her prime and as their bats were sitting on her weak fastball, we had no chance. Should have gone to the cagey veteran, but he was in the bullpen the whole time, head in his hands, knowing this was ours to lose & now everyone has lost, from the biosphere on down to the batboy (or batperson of undetermined gender.) Time to break up what was a good thing 1776-1976, hope we can draft well and develop talent who understand how the game has changed, how the empire’s so far in foul territory, it won’t ever be fair.


About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day.
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